Sunday, July 21, 2013

Under pressure from below, Obama tries to calm the masses in the face of the Zimmerman verdict

Don't be fooled: he's not a friend of black folks or working people
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The racist George Zimmerman has been freed by a jury after stalking and murdering a black teenager, Trayvon Martin.  Martin should have known better, eating Skittles and talking to a friend on a cell phone while black is a very threatening activity in some circles.

This is not so much about Trayvon Martin but all the young black males shot by the police and wannabe cops like Zimmerman.  The reality is, Zimmerman hunted down and murdered Martin vigilante style as the law allows; that’s why he got off. As President Obama said in his speech earlier this week, “The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works.” Don't laugh. More on this later.

The reaction in the black community has been as it should be, one of horror, anger, disgust and every other emotion that any normal community would express at such injustice, not simply the injustice in this particular case, but the ongoing killing and incarceration of young black males. It is a credit to their humanity, that this anger hasn’t expressed itself in more brutal ways like the random mass killings of whites.

“But more blacks are killed by other blacks; black on black crime is worse”
I have heard more than a few times the past few weeks.  What lies behind this comment is that black people are to blame for their own condition, for the poverty, lack of opportunity and incarceration of their youth.  Women are raped because they dress provocatively as well. “Look at those blacks, they are animals.” is the implication here; it’s just another way of cloaking the racist argument.  Anyway, as Jamelle Bouie pointed out in a commentary on July 15th,

“Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you’ll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.”


Glen Ford writing in the Black Agenda Report reminds us that initially it was hoped this issue would go away:

The White House also wanted Trayvon to be forgotten. Three weeks after the shooting, speaking through his press secretary, the president declared, “obviously we're not going to wade into a local law-enforcement matter." A few days later, Obama sought to placate Black public opinion with a statement of physical fact: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”


Let’s recall that the Florida authorities initially refused to arrest Zimmerman for the murder which occurred last February.  It was the public outcry and pressure from below that forced their hand.  This week, in response to the verdict, there have been rallies and protests in hundreds of US cities.  Major black entertainers and public figures have spoken out in opposition to the verdict.  Here in Oakland there have been numerous rallies and protests all overwhelmingly peaceful.  A group also blocked a major freeway and it was interesting that the reporter that I saw anyway, normally eager to share images of one group of workers attacking another, or whites and blacks having opposite opinions on such issues,, spoke to a couple of motorists who although inconvenienced spoke favorably about the need to get people’s attention.

This has forced that superb and eloquent representative of the US capitalist class, or the 1% as they are sometimes referred to, to speak out.  On Friday Obama spoke in very personal terms about the case and about how it could have been his son shot, or him 35 years ago. “There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.” Obama said, reaching in to the hearts of black folks showing how much he identifies with them, “There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.” 

He went on, "You know, I think it's understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent.”

Obama is representing his class well.  He is smart, learned; very slick, " The poverty and dysfunction in those communities "can be traced to a very difficult history,"  he said reminding people also that there was a greater chance of Trayvon Martin being killed by his peers than the likes of Zimmerman or a white person.

He followed his effort to calm the black working class through this rare attempt to identify with them with a few suggestions on how to proceed like a sort of diversity training for the cops; in other words, how to arrest young black men without killing them and how to police the black community with a smile.

He wants to “gather together business leaders, elected officials, celebrities, athletes -- to address the need for African-American men to feel that they are "a full part of this society."

“I'm not na├»ve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.”
Obama added assuring the class he represents that their interests are secured, and that there will be no New Deal on his watch.  “I'm not sure that that’s what we're talking about here.” He continued, “But I do recognize that as President, I've got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.”

Speaking to his victims he assured black folks that,  “I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.”  He talked about his children and children in general, “I think, (Children) have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”

It was a masterful piece of propaganda. It was so good it pretty much silenced the conservative talk show hate mongers.  “We are all Americans” there is no racism, no class conflict, just some bad historical precedents and mindsets that we have to overcome.

There was no talk of black on black crime being a product of third world conditions in the richest nation that has ever existed. No mention of what is an occupation of the black community by the police. Poverty, low wages  and not just a lack of a way out but an impossibility of a way out except for a tiny handful.  No mention of housing, slumlords the incarceration of black males finding the very same condition when they are returned to society.  No mention of the war on drugs that is not a war on drugs but a war on black people. This is what underlies black on black crime.

Look at Obama’s cabinet, the thug and former Israeli Defense Force member Rahm Emmanuel who is closing 150 public schools in Chicago. Arne Duncan, Obama’s education secretary who is connected to all the forces in society aiming to privatize public education.  The savaging of social services and elimination of public sector jobs as well as hundreds of thousands of teachers all affects the black community with a vengeance.

And look at Detroit a city with a majority black population.  Kevin Orr, the emergency manager appointed to deal with this once great city’s bankruptcy who is black, is about to violate the Michigan constitution and cover the city workers pension for a period of six months only although the constitution states these benefits will not be “diminished”.

The Obama administration has refused to help Detroit.  I guess after providing former Egyptian dictator Mubarak among others with billions of US taxpayer dollars, and spending a few trillion more on predatory wars we have no money. Obama’s aggressive drone policy that kills hundreds upon hundreds of young children and babies also cost a few bucks to maintain and certainly doesn’t make us any safer.

“Can we help Detroit? We don’t know,”
Vice President Joe Biden said last week. Jay Carney, the White House spokesperson has ruled out any assistance for Detroit.  Obama’s phony claims to feel the pain of black folk and how much better things are holds no water with me. Things are worse for white workers so we know damn well the situation isn’t improving for blacks.

Jobs for all, a massive infrastructure spending program on housing, transportation, schools and a $20 an hour minimum wage is what will cut across black on black crime and crime in general. Training centers in every community organized by the construction unions and community organizations is what is needed to train workers to rebuild what capitalism and the market has destroyed.  It is the system that Obama heads as commander in chief that has destroyed Detroit where three or four generations of American workers gave their labor to make this country rich. Everything that amounts to a real solution to the capitalist crisis waged in the black community will be opposed by the Obama administration.

I have been surprised by the response to Obama’s speech from some folks, even socialists who have been impressed by his connection to the human side of it.

I am neither fooled nor moved by Obama’s comments he was forced to make due to the pressure from black America and more whites than I think people realize.  He is an astute and slick representative of the bourgeois. A nasty character indeed.

He did a very good job for them last Friday.

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